Text description provided by the architects. Located on a tight lot in Venice, California, the Flower Duplex is a union of opposites. Initiated by a local couple who had opposing styles, Modal Design resolved programmatic needs by replacing an existing duplex with a new structure that blended their distinct aesthetics. While the project was fairly straightforward programmatically, aesthetically the task was more challenging as their ideas for their new home were distinct. Hers: a rustic and potentially traditional home that evoked images of ageing barns in her home state of Colorado. His: a modern and open space connected to the outdoors.
The client’s desire to nurture their close relationship with their long-time tenant yet maximize individual living areas also played into the mix. The resolution came via a question mark-shaped building form that offered private as well as communal exterior spaces. Two exterior gardens were carved out from the building mass, each programmed for individual activities and needs such as eating, relaxing and dining, and responsive to the sun’s path. A private yard near the street takes advantage of early morning sun and a grassy lawn for the owner’s dogs, while a more public yard in the rear embraces late afternoon sun and proximity to a covered outdoor eating patio. This rear public space is shared between the upper and lower units and allows for both physical and visual interaction between the clients and their tenants.
Architecturally the design uses materiality and application to resolve the client’s aesthetic differences. Traditional materials such as reclaimed wood siding salvaged from snow fences in Montana are integrated into a modern, streamlined structure. Their reverse board and batten application suggests a traditional palette but offers a more distinct, modern twist. Sloped roofs typically found on traditional homes and barns were used, but in standing seam metal. It tilts towards or away from the yards to maximize privacy and to optimize light penetration into the structure via skylights and light wells.
On the home’s interior, materials in the lower unit include polished concrete floors for durability and the same reclaimed wood siding applied as an accent in the main living space’s ceilings. Emphasis on the efficiency of space and interest in maintaining large outdoor areas resulted in diminutive but comfortable rooms and combination spaces, most notably an extended kitchen island that serves not only as the centre of the main living space but the principal dining table as well.